In a binding referendum in New Zealand on Friday, preliminary vote counts showed 65.2% of voters support the End of Life Choice Act—new legislation that will legalize euthanasia once it comes into effect in November 2021. The law will allow terminally ill patients to choose assisted dying, if two doctors approve and the patients have less than six months to live. Officials still await another 480,000 special votes, including overseas ballots, but a final count (expected on November 6) is unlikely to contradict the early results.
Several island states have put forward nominees for the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat-General position, but a group composed of Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands has threatened to withdraw from the Forum if their candidate is not chosen. Amidst these tensions, this weekend the Forum’s Chair, Kausea Natano, recommended an elimination process of candidates for the election; he also called on the island states with candidates to work together to solve the dispute.
The transitional government of Sudan is continuing with its plan to pay $335M to US victims of al-Qaeda bombings in the 1990s in exchange for being removed from the US list of states that sponsor terrorism. This is despite the fact that there have been mass protests in Khartoum rejecting the deal. Sudan has a vested interest in being removed from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, as sanctions on the country will be lifted, offering potential economic progress for a country battling inflation and food insecurity.
There have been calls for peaceful protests from citizens in Tanzania after claims of election fraud in the most recent presidential election. John Magufuli, the current president of Tanzania, allegedly received over 12.5 million of the 14 million ballots cast Wednesday. His opponent, Tundu Lissu, has claimed this was not a free and fair election and says his appointed poll agents (people appointed by a candidate to oversee the conduct of polling sites) were denied access to polling sites and were beaten and harassed. The electoral commission has denied these accusations, as well as accusations of ballot stuffing and tampering.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group killed at least 21 civilians in a raid on Lisasa village in northeast DRC. The ADF has existed for over 20 years and has increased its attacks on civilians and UN peacekeepers in the DRC. The ADF originally had an end goal of creating an Islamic state and uses this as a recruitment tool, mainly operating in the eastern provinces of the DRC. 15 of the 21 civilians of the preliminary death toll were women.
The Middle East and North Africa
The recent Abrahamic Accords in Israel have been referred to as “a new dawn in the Middle East” by President Donald Trump. However, the recent “circle of peace” has seen different changes behind the scenes. The possibility of an arms race is now a looming possibility. The United Arab Emirates, the first country to agree to peace with Israel, is becoming closer to getting a prized fighter jet from the United States. The U.S. administration views this favorably because they believe it will tilt the power in the Middle East against Iran. However, elsewhere in the Middle East this is causing tensions with warnings of a new cycle of proliferation and fears of more bloodshed.
Last week women on a Qatar airline were strip-searched in a highly invasive physical examination after a newborn baby was found abandoned in a toilet at Hamad International Airport. All adult women on the flight were required to leave the plane to be body-searched in an examination to see if they had recently given birth. Female passengers on nine other flights were also reportedly examined. Women from Australia, New Zealand and the UK were all examined. The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the events as “appalling” and “unacceptable.” Qatar has recently announced that they will prosecute officials involved in the forced examinations.
Friday afternoon an earthquake of 7.0 magnitude hit the Aegean Sea off Greece and Turkey. The city of Izmir in Turkey was badly hit and at least 20 buildings were destroyed. A total of 470 aftershocks have been reported, 35 of which have been over 4.0 magnitude. Search and rescue operations remain underway and the death toll has now topped 80.